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Don’t blame the agents…

Don’t blame the estate agents…

…they are the social equivalent of the emergency stress-relief valve.

“I have just bought a flat. Written like that, it sounds so straightforward, but in reality it took nine months, swallowed all the spare time and cash my husband and I have, and caused such astonishing stress that I’m surprised a vein in my head didn’t pop.

There were many reasons for the stress – the lawyers, the lawyers! – but one significant factor was that we bought without the involvement of an estate agent. As first we were delighted with this arrangement. It meant that we weren’t in a competitive situation – so we could afford a flat we never thought within our reach – and we preferred the option of speaking to the sellers about any queries or issues in person, without going through a third party, like the civilized grown-ups that we are. This worked beautifully for the first three months. Then a few more months clocked up and everything became more fraught – problems with the mortgage, the lease, the rear fence, the lawyers arguing. Eventually we wished to God there had been a third person involved to relieve me and my husband of having to make awkward phone calls to the sellers at 8pm after a hard day’s work.

The whole experience was a painful lesson in the true value of an estate agent. Not only do they act as a buffer, they soak up our stresses, strains and the flaring tempers of all parties. By absorbing the anger and listening to the frustrations of buyers and sellers alike, they keep sales on track…For us, somehow – and I still can’t believe it- it all worked out. Mostly because our sellers are fundamentally decent people and because we overcame our inbuilt reluctance to hassle our lawyer, and instead pestered her within an inch of her life to get the job done. She’s moaning now about what pain journalists are, no doubt.”

Jessie Hewitson is a London based journalist, printed in Livingnorth magazine Oct 2013

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